Attorneys general from nine states and the District of Columbia are urging a federal judge to reject a proposed class action settlement involving millions of allegedly defective Remington rifles including the iconic Model 700, saying the agreement "fails to adequately protect public safety."
The 38-page filing, which alleges that Remington has "long known" that the guns can fire without the trigger being pulled, comes less than one month before U.S.District Judge Ortrie Smith in Kansas City is scheduled to consider final approval of the settlement in which Remington has agreed to replace the triggers on most of the 7.5 million guns in question.
But the attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on behalf of her counterparts in Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New York,Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia,say the judge should reject the agreement because it does not adequately warn the public of the danger they say the guns pose.
"A firearm that fires a bullet without the trigger being pulled is perhaps the quintessential example of a dangerously unsafe product," the filing says.
But in settlement notifications to the public and on a special settlement web site, Remington's denial of any problem is prominent. The attorneys general say that could lull gun owners into complacency.
"The notices fail to convey that correction of the defect is urgent or that failure to replace the trigger could have life-threatening consequences," the filing says.
Attorneys for Remington and class action plaintiffs did not respond to e-mails seeking a comment, but Remington has steadfastly maintained that the guns are safe and free of defects, and that lawsuits linking the alleged defect to at least two-dozen deaths are without merit. The company has said it is seeking to settle the class action case now to avoid "protracted litigation."
CNBC first reported in 2010 about allegations, which Remington has denied, that the company covered up the alleged defect since before the trigger design went on the market in the 1940s. The original CNBC investigation and a 2015 follow-up report are cited in the states' filing.